Our capacity for learning is becoming the currency we trade on in our careers. Where we once went to work to learn to do a job, learning now is the job. Adaptive and proactive learners are highly prized assets for organizations, and when we invest in our learning, we create long-term dividends for our career development.
Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, shared that when assessing founders of potential investments, he looks for individuals who have an “infinite learning curve”: someone who is constantly learning, and quickly. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, echoed the importance of learning when he said, “The learn-it-all will always do better than the know-it all.”
However, it’s not as simple as acquiring new knowledge. In our increasingly “squiggly” careers, where people change roles more frequently and fluidly and develop in different directions, the ability to unlearn, learn, and relearn is vital for long-term success. Based on our experience designing and delivering career development training for over 50,000 people worldwide, working with organizations including Virgin, Unilever, and Microsoft, we’ve identified several techniques and tools to help you make learning part of your day-to-day development.
Since we spend so much of our time, energy, and efforts at our day jobs, they provide the most significant opportunities for learning. The challenge is that we don’t invest intentionally in everyday development — we’re so busy with tasks and getting the job done that there’s no space left for anything else. Deprioritizing our development is a risky career strategy because it reduces our resilience and ability to respond to the changes happening around us. Here are three ways to take ownership of your learning at work.